Scientists Create Biological Supercomputer

Scientists Create Biological Supercomputer

Scientists have created an energy efficient biological supercomputer that is able to process information very quickly and accurately using parallel networks in the same way that massive electronic supercomputers do.

The model of bio supercomputer, which opens doors to creation of biological supercomputers that are not only small but also more sustainable, was created by an international team of researchers led by professor Dan Nicolau from Canada’s McGill University.

According to an article, published recently in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the supercomputer is a whole lot smaller than current supercomputers, uses much less energy, and uses proteins present in all living cells to function.

“We’ve managed to create a very complex network in a very small area,” said professor Nicolau.

He began working on the idea with his son, Dan Jr., more than a decade ago and was then joined by colleagues from Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands, some seven years ago.

“This started as a back of an envelope idea, after too much rum I think, with drawings of what looked like small worms exploring mazes,” professor Nicolau added.

The model bio-supercomputer uses a combination of geometrical modelling and engineering knowhow (on the nano scale). It is a first step, in showing that this kind of biological supercomputer can actually work.

The circuit the researchers have created looks a bit like a road map of a busy and very organised city as seen from a plane.

Instead of the electrons that are propelled by an electrical charge and move around within a traditional microchip, short strings of proteins (which the researchers call biological agents) travel around the circuit in a controlled way.

Their movements are powered by ATP, the chemical that is, in some ways, the juice of life for everything from plants to politicians.

Since it is run by biological agents, and as a result hardly heats up at all, the model bio supercomputer that the researchers have developed uses far less energy than standard electronic supercomputers do, making it more sustainable.

New App to Help Locate Victims Trapped During Natural Calamities

New App to Help Locate Victims Trapped During Natural Calamities

A doctor’s initiative in harnessing technology has produced an application which can help locate a person trapped in debris in an earthquake or other disasters when communications fail.

Pradeep Bhardwaj, CEO of Six Sigma High Altitude Medical Services for Rescue, says his company has developed a software application which can be tracked through the mobile phone.

The concept is based on ham radio used by amateurs to communicate with one another. However, the application developed by Six Sigma, which can be downloaded to a mobile phone, is not for communication but for continuously sending out a signal which can be detected by special equipment.

“The application does not require mobile network or internet connection to communicate. This is based on satellite which will continuously transmit coded signals but which cannot be used to communicate,” Bhardwaj to IANS.

The transmitted signals can be detected within a radius of 50 kilometres.

He said that keeping the security concerns in mind, the application had been designed in such a way that people tracking the signal can get information on its location with accuracy. Bhardwaj said the Telecommunications Ministry had already given them a licence to operate the system.

Six Sigma medical services have been recognised by the Central government, several state governments and countries like Nepal and China for its contribution in saving and counselling thousands of people during the Uttrakhand cloud-burst in 2013, Nepal earthquake in 2015 and China earthquakes, Bhardwaj said.

“The Real Time Location application is made keeping in mind the rescue operations in high altitude areas where mobile towers network or Internet fails being hit by a natural calamity. People or soldiers who get trapped in the debris or snow can easily be helped out using the application,” Bhardwaj said.

Till now, Bhardwaj said, he and his team had saved more than 5,600 victims who were stuck in high altitudes.

The Six Sigma is also known for setting up a base camp at a height of 24,500 feet on Mount Everest during the Nepal earthquake, where they had played a major role in helping the Indian Army rescue people.

Bhardwaj said they would send a proposal on the application to the Health Ministry soon, urging it to get it installed in the cell phones of soldiers and people living in high altitude areas which are prone to earthquakes and landslides.

C.K. Misra, additional health Secretary in the ministry of health, told IANS: “This is a good initiative which will help people in high altitude areas. But, he said, the government would need to look into such applications.”

Bhardwaj claimed the application could have helped track Indian soldiers caught in the avalanche recently in Siachen, had these been installed in their mobile phones.

Raspberry Pi 3 With 64-Bit CPU, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi Launched

Raspberry Pi 3 With 64-Bit CPU, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi Launched at $35

The Raspberry Pi foundation has launched the third version of its popular low-power Raspberry Pi development platform, the Raspberry Pi 3. It’s priced at $35, the same as the Raspberry Pi 2 mini computer unveiled last year, but adds a much request feature – integrated Wi-Fi as well as Bluetooth connectivity.

Raspberry Pi Founder Eben Upton in a blog post announced that the new launch commemorates the company’s fourth birthday. Upton also detailed that the company has so far shipped 8 million Raspberry Pi units, including three million Raspberry Pi 2 units. The company claims that Raspberry Pi 2 is the “UK’s all-time best-selling computer.”

Raspberry Pi 3 will go on sale starting Monday from element14 and RS Components, and other resellers. The company also announced that at launch they will be using the same 32-bit Raspbian userland that have been used on other (previous generation) Raspberry Pi devices. The company will decide whether to move to the 64-bit mode over the next few months after investigating.

Some of the highlights of the Raspberry Pi 3 include a 1.2GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 processor which the company says has 10x performance of the Raspberry Pi 1. Despite being available at the same price as Raspberry Pi 2, the Raspberry Pi 3 will feature integrated 802.11n wireless LAN and Bluetooth 4.1. It will be complete compatible with Raspberry Pi 1 and Raspberry Pi 2. For Raspberry Pi 3, the company says that Broadcom supports a new SoC, the BCM2837.

“The 900MHz 32-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU complex has been replaced by a custom-hardened 1.2GHz 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53. Combining a 33% increase in clock speed with various architectural enhancements, this provides a 50-60% increase in performance in 32-bit mode versus Raspberry Pi 2, or roughly a factor of ten over the original Raspberry Pi,” said Upton.

Apple Bricks Ethernet Port on Some Macs With OS X Update, Here’s How to Fix It

Apple Bricks Ethernet Port on Some Macs With OS X Update, Here's How to Fix It

If your Mac isn’t connecting to the Internet, you can blame Apple for that. The Cupertino-based company has admitted that a recent update to the operating system rendered the Ethernet port on the machine useless for at least some people. The company has explained on the support website about how one can fix the glitch. You can also do it manually, in case connecting your machine to the Internet wirelessly is also not possible.

Over the weekend, users began to complain of connectivity issues with Ethernet port on “most” Mac computers. They claimed that a Kernel extension update, which has since been pulled, blacklisted the BCM5701 driver, which is supposedly responsible for the correct functioning of the Ethernet port. Apple has acknowledged the issue and urges users to update to Kernel extension version 3.28.2 or make some changes to the system manually.

Check System Information on your system (by opening Spotlight and searching for System Information) to pinpoint the version number of Incompatible Kernel Extension Configuration. The affected version number is 3.28.1. If your system is facing the issue, you will be required to update the configuration to get the Ethernet porting again. If you’ve the option to connect to a Wi-Fi network, type in sudo softwareupdate –background. Close Terminal and restart the system.

Brain Stimulation Technique Can Boost Pilot Skills

Brain Stimulation Technique Can Boost Pilot Skills: Study

Neurostimulation, a brain stimulation technique originally developed to help patients with brain injuries such as strokes and depression, can also be used to improve learning and skill retention in pilots, says a study.

Researchers from US-based HRL Laboratories used transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to show that the technique can be effectively used to improve skills of pilots learning to fly.

“We measured the brain activity patterns of six commercial and military pilots and then transmitted these patterns into novice subjects as they learned to pilot an airplane in a realistic flight simulator,”said Dr Matthew Phillips from HRL’s information and system sciences Laboratory.

The team found that participants who received brain stimulation via electrode-embedded head caps improved their piloting abilities.

“We measured the average g-force of the plane during the simulated landing and compared it to control subjects who received a mock brain stimulation,” added Dr Phillips in a paper published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

While a previous research demonstrated that tDCS can both help patients more quickly recover from a stroke and boost a healthy person’s creativity, HRL’s study is one of the first to show that tDCS is effective in accelerating practical learning.

According to the researcher, the potential to increase learning with brain stimulation may make this form of accelerated learning commonplace.

“As we discover more about optimizing, personalizing, and adapting brain stimulation protocols, we’ll likely see these technologies become routine in training and classroom environments,” he noted.

“It’s possible that brain stimulation could be implemented for classes like drivers’ training, SAT prep, and language learning,” Dr Philips noted.

Twitter Launches New Campaign to Empower Women

Twitter Launches New Campaign to Empower Women

Taking cue from a study showcasing a prevailing male dominance over both online and offline space, social networking site Twitter recently launched #Positionofstrength campaign to empower women to raise voices against any form of discrimination.

The movement, which has been already been launched in Australia and Ireland, seeks to bridge the gender equality gap online in India and “inspire the next generation of women leaders to have an influential voice in society.”

“We have heard from many women influencers who have used Twitter to drive awareness on gender pay gap, childcare, domestic violence, healthcare and flexible work. With the introduction of #PositionOfStrength, we hope to strengthen the women empowerment movement and encourage women to amplify their voices in a secure and confident manner,” says Mahima Kaul,Public Policy Head, Twitter India.

The social networking platform has partnered with FICCI Ladies Organisation and Observer Research Foundation to engage more women to find their voices online, communicate safely with confidence and network with other like-minded women and the global community at large.

Safety, according to the organisers, lies at the core of the campaign and enables users to steer clear of any form of online abuse.

“We have introduced measures to empower our users with tools to mute, block and report abusive behaviour,” says Patricia Cartes, Head of Global Trust and Safety Outreach, Twitter.

In order to to expand the reach of the programme, a series of round table sessions and workshops with women leaders has been scheduled to be organised throughout the year to discuss how to increase empowerment and safety for women, both online and in the physical world.

Meanwhile, Twitter also launched its Safety Center in Hindi to ensure engagement and education of women locally to enable them to use the platform safely and with confidence.

“For the first time in Asia, we’re pleased to launch Twitter’s Safety Center in Hindi, as we are committed to increasing our safety efforts and rolling out this social movement across this important market,” says Cartes.

Nasa’s Ibex Defines Interstellar Magnetic Field

Nasa's Ibex Defines Interstellar Magnetic Field

Using data from Nasa’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX), scientists have determined the strength and direction of the magnetic field outside the heliosphere, giving us a peek into the magnetic forces that dominate the galaxy beyond.

Immediately after its 2008 launch, IBEX spotted a curiosity in a thin slice of space – more particles streamed in through a long, skinny swath in the sky than anywhere else.

The origin of the so-called IBEX ribbon was unknown – but its very existence opened doors to observing what lies outside the solar system.

Now, a new study uses IBEX data and simulations of the interstellar boundary – which lies at the very edge of the giant magnetic bubble surrounding our solar system called the heliosphere – to better describe space in our galactic neighbourhood.

The study is based on one particular theory of the origin of the IBEX ribbon, in which the particles streaming in from the ribbon are actually solar material reflected back at us after a long journey to the edges of the sun’s magnetic boundaries, researchers said.

A giant bubble, known as the heliosphere, exists around the sun and is filled with what is called solar wind, the sun’s constant outflow of ionised gas, known as plasma. When these particles reach the edges of the heliosphere, their motion becomes more complicated, they said.

“The theory says that some solar wind protons are sent flying back towards the sun as neutral atoms after a complex series of charge exchanges, creating the IBEX ribbon,” said Eric Zirnstein from Southwest Research Institute in US.

“Simulations and IBEX observations pinpoint this process – which takes anywhere from three to six years on average – as the most likely origin of the IBEX ribbon,” said Zirnstein.

The directions of different ribbon particles shooting back toward Earth are determined by the characteristics of the interstellar magnetic field.

For instance, simulations show that the most energetic particles come from a different region of space than the least energetic particles, which gives clues as to how the interstellar magnetic field interacts with the heliosphere, researchers said.

For the study, such observations were used to seed simulations of the ribbon’s origin. Not only do these simulations correctly predict the locations of neutral ribbon particles at different energies, but the deduced interstellar magnetic field agrees with Voyager 1 measurements, the deflection of interstellar neutral gases, and observations of distant polarised starlight.

“Voyager 1 crossed the termination shock at 94 astronomical units (AU) from the sun, and Voyager 2 at 84 AU,” said Zirnstein. One AU is equal to about 150 million kilometres, the average distance between Earth and the sun.

“That difference of almost 150 million kilometres was mostly explained by a strong, very tilted interstellar magnetic field pushing on the heliosphere,” said Zirnstein. The study was published in Astrophysical Journal.

OnePlus X Gets ‘Hotfix’ Update for Camera Corruption Issue

OnePlus X Gets 'Hotfix' Update for Camera Corruption Issue

OnePlus last month rolled out OxygenOS 2.2.0 for its latest smartphone, the OnePlus X. However, after the OTA update some users reported image corruption issues with the handset. To resolve the issue the Chinese tech company on Friday started rolling out a hotfix for the OnePlus X camera.

The announcement comes from a OnePlus forum administrator. “We are pushing out a hotfix for the image corruption issue some of you have been seeing with the OnePlus Camera after the last update. Sorry for the inconvenience this has caused, we expect to see this issue fully resolved with this update,” the admin posted on the company forum.

It has been added that since the update is incremental, it will take some time to reach all the OnePlus Xsmartphones. It is worth mentioning that the OTA update will keep the handset at OxygenOS 2.2.0 and will weigh 9.5MB.

OnePlus X earlier this month went invite-free in India. The move follows company’s decision from last week to make available OnePlus X in many other regions sans invite. Users in India can purchase the OnePlus X handset from Amazon India without the trouble of obtaining an invite – which again required participation in different online promotions or a seemingly endless waiting list. As part of the move, users will be able to purchase any of the OnePlus X variant – Onyx Black, Champagne Gold, and limited edition Ceramic. The OnePlus X smartphone was launched in India at a price point of Rs. 16,999 for the Onyx variant, and Rs. 22,999 for the limited edition Ceramic variant.

HoloLens to Go Up for Pre-Orders Monday; Features, Games Revealed

HoloLens to Go Up for Pre-Orders Monday; Features, Games Revealed: Report

Microsoft is likely to make a number of announcements about HoloLens on Monday. The Redmond, Washington-based company could begin taking pre-orders for its $3,000 HoloLens Development Edition ahead of its March 30 launch. The company is also expected to unveil three HoloLens games.

Last week, leaked documentation of HoloLens revealed that the company plans to host an event on Monday. It appears Microsoft indeed plans to give us an update on its first augmented reality project. Fortune Magazine accidentally published a story over the weekend, revealing all the details. The post, which was supposedly under embargo, has been retracted since.

According to the report, HoloLens users will also get Fragments, Young Conker, and RoboRaid game titles. Fragments, for instance, is a game that happens around the wearer in his or her living room. Players are required to investigate clues. RoboRaid “utilises spatial sound as a gameplay feature,” and alerts gamers about the directions they have to turn to.

These games alongside non-gaming apps such as HoloStudio, which is aimed at allowing developers to learn gesture and other commands and create “3D in 3D–at real-world scale.” The suite will also include an app called HoloTour, which will offer panoramic displays of various places, making a user feel that he or she is there, and can roam around.

The Developer Edition will also come with an enhanced version of Skype, which will allow users connect with their friends even when playing in the augmented world. It will also demonstrate how HoloLens can be utilised for remote collaboration. Nasa recently showcased how it was utilising HoloLens to have their astronauts interact with people on earth as they were in the same room, and also walk around the surface of Mars without ever leaving the campus.

According to the report, Microsoft will also release an app called Actiongram later this year. The app is touted as a storytelling medium that will allow developers to overlay with real world objects. Last week, we also saw the Start menu for HoloLens.

Telenor Looking to Start Payment Bank in India This Year

Telenor Looking to Start Payment Bank in India This Year

Norwegian telecom operator Telenor is looking to commence operations of its payment bank JV in India this year and will roll out some basic services like bill payments a bit earlier.

“What we are looking at, we might go out bit sooner with some activities but the full bank…we need to have the systems platform reviewed by RBI, so I would say that we would be very happy if we launch this in 2016,” Telenor Group SVP and Head of Financial Services, Tine Wollebekk, told PTI during theMobile World Congress held Barcelona from February 22-25.

Telenor, along with Dilip Shanghvi of Sun Pharmaceuticals and IDFC, had earlier received RBI’s approval to set up the payment bank.

Telenor holds 39 percent stake in the partnership, with Shanghvi holding 41 percent and IDFC the rest 20 percent.

She said Telenor wants to make sure that it launches something that is resilient and compliant with all norms.

Asked about the services that it will launch before the full fledged operations, Wollebekk said, “I think there are some basic services like bill payments, but I don’t want to comment on the details.”

Wollebekk said getting the RBI approval was a great start for its foray into financial services in India.

“To be honest, India was a market that I was waiting to see how we should approach because India is not one market, it is one big continent and obviously, it’s very attractive.

We want to be in India but we are also very scared about how to be successful in India,” she said.

Wollebekk further said, “I knew that when we were going to approach India with financial services, it would have to be based on partnerships, it should not be something we do alone.”

Payment banks allow mobile firms, supermarket chains and others to cater to individuals and small businesses.

The payment bank will be set up as a differentiated bank and shall confine its activities to acceptance of demand deposits, remittance services, Internet banking and other specified services.

Payment banks will initially be restricted to holding a maximum balance of Rs. 1 lakh per individual customer.

They will be allowed to issue ATM/debit cards as also other prepaid payment instruments, but not credit cards.

These banks can also distribute non-risk sharing simple financial products like mutual funds and insurance products.

However, they will not be allowed to undertake lending services and non-resident Indians will not be allowed to open accounts.